You see, Joy is not mere happiness. Happiness is circumstantial; it ebbs and flows, comes and goes, as our situations change. Joy exists on a deeper level, sustained through difficult times as well as easy. Life's path does not have to run smoothly for us to experience Joy.
A month ago I wrote about catching a glimpse of Joy. Since then, I've caught it again. And again. Is life simple right now? Heck no. Is everything smooth and copacetic? Not a chance.
I mean, look at the facts. Still going through the process of divorce? Check. Kids getting sick and dripping snot all over the place? Check. Allergies rising up at the hint of spring? Check. Hips and back creating agonizing pain for over a month and a half, making me think that perhaps I need to get an MRI to see if something more sinister is going on in my lower torso? Check and
And yet, there's an underlying sense of well-being; a solid belief that not only will I survive all this, I can and will rise above it all; a deepening sense of Joy. My students are starting to look at me sideways, checking for signs that perhaps I'm a changeling. I mean, I'm positively NICE.
Not to make it sound like I'm walking around like Polly-frickin'-anna, because that would just indicate a high level of mood-altering drugs, which are not actually in my system these days. I still get annoyed by argumentative, sulky, uncooperative preschoolers and teens (and isn't it remarkable how alike they can be?) I still lose my temper from time to time. I still get anxious over my future and what is coming my way. I still feel overwhelmed with all the Stuff That Must Be Done. I still get very frustrated with this ongoing pain and how much it is hampering my life.
But the darkness that used to sweep over me at times like this? Nowhere to be seen. The occasional shadow lurks but never overtakes.
C. S. Lewis wrote a book titled Surprised by Joy. This is what I am: surprised by Joy, by the grace extended to me, by the peace that underlies the turmoil. The uncertainty that strangled my thoughts is not solved, but neither do I find myself so breathless because of it. I find myself able to set aside doubts that tangled me before, accept the gifts freely offered me, receive love and friendship and give it in return.
And I am grateful.